Ashley and Nathan were married on a cold day in January, 1/4/14 to be exact. A date specifically chosen to be 6 months from the anniversary of when they began dating, July 4th. In their words, "We get to celebrate twice a year, once with wine and love notes written to each other, and once with fireworks and grilling!"
As the owner of Simply Elegant, Ashley understands how much easier and less stressful an event can be when you hire a professional planner. So the bride's first call to any wedding vendor was to her long time friend Jennae of Blush and Whim to plan and design the event.
Our Love story - From Nathan
Early in our relationship we were up late one night talking on the phone about things that were most precious to us. Ashley began to go into the story of her Teddy Bear that her Grandmother had given to her when she was first born. She began describing what it used to look like. This adorable dark brown teddy bear had become worn out with the very constant hugs and snuggling that Ashley had given it throughout the years. One day many years ago she and her Grandma Marge (G is what Ashley called her) were looking for a replacement bear for Ashley, Ashley and G had searched in stores, at flea markets, even the internet provided no results. It became a small life goal for the two of them to find a new bear.
Sadly her Grandma had passed before their goal was met. Ashley dealt with the reality that she and Grandma would never find the bear together.
As Ashley told this story- in my mind I was picturing a very specific dark brown teddy bear that I was familiar with. I stated that I was given a similar bear when I was very young. I went on to tell her that the tag of my bear said 24K Polar Puff. Ashley began to burst out in tears. She couldn't believe I had the very same bear she and Grandma had been looking for all those years together.
We both feel that it was more than mere coincidence that I owned the exact bear Ashley and her Grandma were looking for. God and Grandma were definitely involved in bringing us together.
Their rehearsal dinner was held at Brick's American Pub, providing a large selection of seasonal craft and micro brews from around the world to accompany the american cuisine which the couple had taste-tested during their many trips to the pub. In keeping with the Minnesota theme of their upcoming wedding they had a special Tater Tot Hot Dish cake made by Terri at Queen of Cakes. They served Curious Traveler Shandy on tap in the tap room which Ashley LOVES. There was so much love in the air on rehearsal night- they were even able to celebrate the birthday of Ashley's childhood best friend and Bridesmaid Heather by presenting her with a Birthday cake and candles.
The Wedding Day-
Their wedding took place at the various picturesque buildings within the Van Dusen Mansion grounds. A site Ashley had chosen when she first began her career as a wedding coordinator, it was the first venue she had ever toured as a professional and she immediately fell in love with its charm and character.
The Van Dusen provides amazing space for couples to get ready. Ashley and the ladies were getting ready upstairs while Nathan, the Fathers, and his groomsmen were getting prepped downstairs. The men had sports on the projector screen and played a few rounds of pool and Xbox before getting into their tuxes. The ladies were upstairs having laughs, sipping on mimosas, enjoying a light breakfast and getting their makeup done by Lisa Reinhardt Makeup and Hair Artistry. Their gorgeous hair was done by Mani Mela.
As guests arrived they were greeted by butler passed champagne and Matt and Jennifer of the Van Dusen Mansion who tell the historic past of the century old mansion. The ceremony took place in the upper ballroom; an intimate 75 person affair surrounded by their closest family and friends. It was wonderfully captured in photo by Kendra Oxendale Photography. Whom Ashley had basically hired to shoot her wedding after falling in love with her work YEARS before she was ever dating Nathan. The processional music was Perfect Kiss by Marie Hines, sung by Ashley's dear friends Maggie Kline and Dan Glenn. And their close friend Pastor Amy Orstad told everyone their love story and officiated the ceremony.
The ceremony was FULL of personal touches by the couple. The matching teddy bears they both had as children accompanied them behind the altar, and touches of her grandmother and mother were intermingled within her dress and bouquet. The lace from her mother's own wedding dress was sewn into the underlayers of Ashley's dress, which was custom made by JenMar Creations, and her bouquet had a charm with a photograph of her Grandma Marjorie hanging from it. Even Nathan's pocket square and wedding ring each hold an homage to the story of their teddy bears.
As reception guests joined the celebration for cocktails and champagne on the lower levels, Ashley and Nathan snuck away for a brief rest to celebrate amongst themselves (and take a breath). Followed by their first glance of their reception decor.
Ashley trusted Jennae whole heartedly and knew her style and design would be perfection, so they decided to keep the design in the event hall a secret from the beginning of the planning process. She hadn't seen or heard any of the details that were being put in place. Her few wants were tons of calligraphy and of course gold chiavari chairs. Ashley and Nathan took a tour of the dining space before meeting back with the guests for cocktails. When they entered and saw what Jennae had been able to do with the space they were speechless! And to render Ashley speechless is nearly impossible! The beautiful lighting, the amazing floral displays, the calligraphy and chiavaris at every table. Ashley's reaction was priceless!
They joined the guests for drinks and hors d'oeuvres catered by Mintahoe before dinner, mingling throughout the charming character of the rooms on the entry level and down in the game room. Various Minnesota themed decorations were placed throughout the rooms; stories of places they loved, pictures of popular Minnesota destinations, photos of moments they shared. Beautiful calligraphy, personalized mementos, and decorations were all wonderfully done by hand by Renee of Calligraphy With Style.
Dinner took place in the event center adorned in violet light, with tables draped in champagne linen and lined with golden chiavari chairs. The design by Blush and Whim and Mani Mela was a HUGE surprise to Ashley and Nathan. Peonies and Roses were elegantly coupled together with golden leaves and baby's breath in the table centerpieces. A BEAUTIFUL crystal and mercury glass floral display drew your eye to the middle of the room. The couple sat on a plush chaise for dinner, beneath a crystal chandelier glistening in violet light. The floral, linens, and centerpieces were lovingly designed by Mani Mela. The couple even gave Ashley's dad a surprise from Queen of Cakes that he definitely didn't want to share.
The dance took guests through the center courtyard and into the carriage house. The top floor furnished with ample lounge style seating and plenty of snacks to nibble on. Guests loved the separate spaces, looking down onto the dance floor you could watch guests dance while others were upstairs lounging and chatting. Jeff of Sunset Blue Productions created a GORGEOUS same-day-edit for everyone to watch a recap of the days events and captured the amazing details in a four minute video of the day. The courtyard was open, with heaters for those daring few brave enough to challenge the -30 degree temperature, and provided a great area lit with quaint cafe lighting where the groomsmen and fathers passed cigars.
Guests were entertained by Adagio DJ Entertainment, playing classic and modern jazz mixed into modern pop and dance music plus Ashley and Nathan's favorites, a few Backstreet Boys songs really got the bridesmaids to dance. Mobile Photo Booth provided fun memories and a guest book for guests to write blessings to the couple next to their photo strips, the kids LOVED using the fun props and different image settings. Cakes and cupcakes were beautifully displayed on the dessert table, begging guests to take a piece and sample the different flavors created by Queen of Cakes. The bridesmaids and Simply Elegant Girls created a great photo opportunity, stealing a cake and digging into it hands first in the photo booth.
This truly was Ashley and Nathan's Best Day Ever. But most importantly they wanted their guests to remember that it's possible to make any day the best day ever.